Durban - “I’m still here and I still deserve to be where I am.”
That was Proteas white-ball captain Temba Bavuma’s bold claim after his ODI century against England last week.
Bavuma has now backed up that statement after his call-up to the Sunrisers Eastern Cape squad for the second half of the Betway SA20 yesterday.
Bavuma was originally overlooked for the inaugural Betway SA20 when all six teams chose not to bid for the Proteas skipper. The 32-year-old’s omission caused a massive outcry around the country, particularly as it was just prior to last year’s ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.
But after taking a mental break ahead of the recent One-Day International series against England, Bavuma returned refreshed and recharged.
He struck 180 runs at an average of 60.0 in the three-match series, at a strike-rate of 114.64. It also included a marvellous 109 off 102 balls in the second ODI against the world champions that was arguably Bavuma’s most striking international innings of his career.
The Sunrisers have paid attention to Bavuma’s form, and opted to add him to their squad after Somerset captain Tom Abell received his maiden call-up to the England ODI squad for the tour to Bangladesh.
“I am so excited to be joining up with the Sunrisers Eastern Cape team for the remainder of the SA20 campaign,” Bavuma said on social media.
“I look forward to the opportunity and look forward to being part of an incredible bunch of guys and I’m sure good memories will be made.”
Bavuma could likely slot straight into the Sunrisers’ starting XI for their all-important clash against Durban’s Super Giants at Kingsmead this afternoon.
Englisman Jordan Cox has endured a nightmare Betway SA20 campaign at the top of the order for the Eastern Cape side, with the 22-year-old managing just 19 runs in five matches at an average of 3.80.
In contrast, Bavuma is filled with confidence after his impressive series against England.
“I am quite satisfied with my performances (against England). I feel like a different Temba came out and stood up in the last three games,” he said.
“It was me just trying to express myself for the team.
“I’ll take the confidence from these last three games and hopefully it flows into the other games and formats.”
There has been criticism that the pitches in Bloemfontein and Kimberley during the high-scoring series did not offer the seam bowlers much assistance which allowed Bavuma and Co to profit, but the skipper instead felt that both team’s batting units raised the level of their game.
"The quality of the bowlers on both sides are high.
“The skill levels are definitely among the best. Maybe it just speaks to the quality of the batting that was on display in this series, maybe that needs to be appreciated a bit more than just having a go at the bowlers,“he said.
“White ball cricket is hard on the bowlers.
“You don’t have a lot of guys on the boundary, you’re contending with two new balls.
“So reverse swing is not much of a factor. For me, it was about the quality of batsmanship.”